Once upon a time, Christians were indeed persecuted for their beliefs.
While scholars now claim that there has been a great bit of mythmaking with respect to Saturday afternoon Coliseum matinees of Christians being thrown to the lions, no one doubts that there was a time in the Roman Empire when the likes of Galerius and Diocletian ordered that the Christian nuisance be extinguished—quite literally.
And why was death by barbecue the Roman ideal for Christians?
Well, for one, Christians were none too keen to acknowledge that Caesar was god, nor offer public sacrifices in Caesar’s honor, nor even purchase officially-licensed Roman meat.
Most of all, Christians believed that a man named Jesus was God. And the philosophy this Mr. Christ fellow taught was rather disruptive to a society hell-bent on profit and empire.
Pastor Pillow here.
Jesus incited a human revolution with “neo-Marxist concepts” such as loving your neighbor as yourself, doing unto others as you would have others do unto you, turning the other cheek, etc., et al.
Or as Douglas Adams once put it: “[O]ne Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change…”
Those were the good old days of Christianity.
Enter Fundamentalist Christianity 2013, where Obamacare, Social Security and the Minimum Wage are the trident points of Beelzebub. Where Demons and Hispanic immigrants hide in the shadows, waiting to eat your children. Where Middle Eastern nations are the Almighty Lord’s clay pigeon targets. And on and on.
In this new version of Christianity, Jesus has been replaced by a Chuck Norris neocolonialist with nunchucks who takes his barking orders from Gordon Gekko.
And while I don’t believe in Satan, such is the very definition of “antichrist.”
Honest to Christ (and that’s not a violation of the Third Commandment), as I take the pulpit this morning to address you, I am at a loss to explain what has happened to my religion.
Inasmuch as Archbishop Desmond Tutu recently proclaimed, “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this,” I cannot publicly profess more strongly that there is not a god in all the pantheons of our Little Blue Planet—especially the Christian Trinity—who would support Ted Cruz as President of the United States of America. Yet read below with sapiential eye.
Put a gun to my head. Burn me alive. Feed me to emaciated tigers. I do not care. I would sooner suffer an eternity of sulfuric affliction—yes, Pastor John, please keep praying for me—than for one damned second purchase the illicit, hateful meat of Tea Party Evangelicalism.
If you call yourself a Christian, now is the time to stand and be counted.
(Of course, civilization would be grateful if you voted in November 2014, as well.)
Depart, depart, go out from there! Come out from it and be pure, you who carry the vessels of the Lord!
As you spend your Sunday afternoon beholding the dramatic unfolding of gladiatorial pigskin prior to this evening’s 5:30 p.m. service, take a minute or two to review this week’s Radical Right headlines. (And remember that NFL cheerleaders have eternal souls too.) As ever, honest to God, I am not making up any of this stuff. Actually, this week, I wish I were.
5. God Considers Worldwide Flood after Evangelicals Elect President Cruz in Presidential Straw Poll, via The Christian Post: “Ted Cruz, Religious Liberty, Win Straw Poll at Values Voter Summit”
This week, the Family Research Council (James Dobson’s lobbying organization) hosted the Values Voter Summit (VVS) in Washington DC. The Values Voter Summit is an annual political conference for American social conservative activists and elected officials.
Each year, VVS conducts a presidential straw poll. This year, U.S. Senator Ted Crux (R-Texas) won 42 percent of the vote. 42 DAMNED PERCENT! Dr. Ben Carson and Rick Santorum each finished in second place with 13 percent of the vote, respectively.
Shortly thereafter, God called down to the bullpen and asked the worldwide deluge to begin warming up.
More accurately, when Values Voter Summit participants were asked to state the single most important issue to them, they universally responded “religious freedom.” Many participants cited Obamacare as a leading violation of their basic religious freedom.
When asked whether state governmental requirements to purchase automobile insurance were also a satanic violation of religious freedom, most conference attendees just stared dumbly into space.
4. Government Shutdown Schmutdown—When Justin Bieber’s Mom Talks, Evangelicals Listen, via The Gospel Herald: “Justin Bieber’s Mom Pattie Mallette to Liberty University Students: ‘Step Up and Make a Difference’ for Christ”
In a follow-up to an earlier Christian Right Weekly Update file, Justin Bieber’s mom, Pattie Mallette, finally delivered her convocational address to the folks at Liberty University.
It took several minutes to conjure the strength to conduct a Google search of Justin Bieber. (There are some things one simply doesn’t want the NSA to be privy to.) As I suspected, the pop icon has little in common with second-century apologist St. Justin Martyr. I confess I didn’t have the energy to read this whole article about some of Mr. Bieber’s recent public foibles, so you decide.
Oh, what the hell. Who am I to tell Liberty University or any other institution of higher education who should address their community? It sounds like the lady has been to hell and back. I’m glad for her success as a human being.
Ms. Mallette is reported to have instructed Liberty’s faculty and students: “We are not made to sit on the sidelines while people suffer. … We have to develop the attitude, like David, that says I will do whatever it takes to fight against oppression and injustice.”
(I assume she means King David rather than David Hasselhoff.)
Well, dang, who’d have thunk that Jerry Falwell’s people would invite a neo-Marxist into their midst? It’s almost enough to make a belieber out of me.
I do have one bone to pick with The Gospel Herald, though. It claims that Liberty University is the largest Christian university in the United States. I’m curious: when Christ returns, does that mean he’ll take DeMoss Hall back with him into glory? Or does it stay here on earth with the rest of us non-beliebers?
3. Continued Utter Silence at Christianity Today on Government Shutdown, Yet Evangelical Clarion is Giddy that Supreme Court Justice Believes in Satan: “Supreme Court’s Scalia Cites C.S. Lewis in Confessing Belief in the Devil”
For a second straight week, Evangelical clarion Christianity Today remains stone silent on the U.S. Government Shutdown.
Instead, thank God CT reporter Kevin P. Emmert is here to inform us that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia believes in Satan. Of course, this wasn’t an exclusive interview or anything. It’s just second-hand reporting of a New York Times Magazine interview.
No, we can’t expect Christianity Today to be so bold to cover the single most important news story of the century. Not when there’s a cheap C.S. Lewis reference to be made:
“Citing C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, Scalia explained that the Devil has gotten wilier since Bible times. Instead of making pigs jump off cliffs, possessing people, and whatnot, he’s ‘getting people not to believe in him or in God.’”
Seriously, if you ever need to trap an Evangelical, just place a copy of Out of the Silent Planet in a field. I admit to a personal literary love of C.S. Lewis, but Christianity Today’s longstanding, unbridled obsession with the Narnian creator is embarrassing. It reminds me of this.
For a second straight week, our “stand and be counted” challenge to Christianity Today on the Government Shutdown remains intact.
2. Government Shutdown Has South Baptist Convention Financial Services Company Worried, at Baptist Press News: “GuideStone, Amid DC gridlock, Issues Advisory”
There is something about this article that is so bass-ackwards antithetical to the premise of Christianity that it should probably be bronzed and placed in the Why Religion Makes So Many People Want to Throw Up Hall of Fame.
Also, it reads like a theological logic puzzle on acid:
Premise: Most Baptists favor the U.S. Government Shutdown.
Premise: The Government Shutdown “has prompted GuideStone Financial Resources to issue an advisory to its retirement plan participants to ‘stay the course’ in their investments/savings.”
Premise: GuideStone is the official financial services entity of the Southern Baptist Convention and “serves more than 36,000 churches and ministry organizations and more than 163,000 retirement plan participants. Total defined contribution retirement plan assets exceeded $8.8 billion as of September 30, while total organizational assets of GuideStone exceeded $12.3 billion.”
Inference: When Jesus returns next Thursday because of the wickedness of Obamacare, Christians will be permitted to take 34.7% of their investment portfolios through the Pearly Gates.
Conclusion: The following statement by GuideStone is in all likelihood the single strangest thing any conservative Christian institution has published since the Government Shutdown began: “Most experts believe that the debt ceiling will be raised before the deadline and that investors should maintain their long-term strategic asset allocation. We agree.”
Really? You agree? But, but…didn’t your ilk get us into this mess in the first place?
1. Evangelicals and Fox News at Each Other’s Throats (a progress, of sorts), at Liberty Institute: “Major News Source Accuses Fox Sports of Lying About Craig James Firing; James Promises to ‘See Justice Through’”
We always like to end on a positive note if we can. We’re not entirely sure this qualifies as one, but it might. Yet…it’s almost worse than the logic puzzle above.
Craig James is a former running back for the New England Patriots. Mr. James fancies himself as a football broadcaster as well. Following his disastrous run for a U.S. Senate seat in Texas, Mr. James discovered that his anti-gay political views were apparently not popular with his now former employer, Fox Sports.
Which is more than a little confusing. Does this mean that Fox News will no longer hire sports broadcasters who refuse to march in pride parades if elected to public office, but will continue to let bozos like Rick Santorum enunciate their anti-gay public policy philosophies on its airwaves?
Beyond this, what the hell does any of this have to do with Christianity? Well, a lot, if you take the Liberty Institute at its word:
“Please consider a generous gift today to help us continue to offer pro bono (free of charge) legal assistance to individuals, churches and organizations across the country facing religious discrimination. In a time when religious liberty is under unprecedented assault, every dollar is critical.”
As everyone knows, Jesus wouldn’t have marched in a pride parade, either. I mean, he dined with tax collectors and prostitutes, but he simply would have drawn the line at reclining on a float with a bunch of parading homosexuals!
Maybe this unexpected string of common sense at Fox Sports has a chance of spilling over into its regular news department. Perhaps any day now Michael Strahan and Howie Long will replace Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity. One can only hope.
That’s a wrap!
And just why do we present the Christian Right Weekly Round-Up each week?
According to Forbes, the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) alone brings in nearly $300 million per year in revenue. CBN isn’t alone in the 9-figure Radical Right Revenue Game. According to the website Ministry Watch, CBN is dwarfed in comparison to the nearly $900 million raked in annually by the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).
But TBN and CBN are mere bright stars in a galactic empire of hundreds of Christian news and media organizations. If you have a few minutes to spare, review the membership lists of the National Religious Broadcasters and the Evangelical Press Association.
Each and every one of these Christian media organizations have one thing in common: they report news to members of the Christian Right across the Fruited Plain. And the Christian Right account for nearly one-third of America’s voters.
Not only that, but here’s a list of what’s on the line in November 2014:
—All 435 seats of the U.S. House of Representatives
—33 seats in the U.S. Senate
—46 State Legislatures
—And 38 State and Territorial Governorships.
Sorry to preach politics from the pulpit, but if that doesn’t scare the shit out of you enough to submit an early 2014 ballot, I don’t know what will.
See you next week.
And a final message for people everywhere, don’t forget: the November 2014 election is this many days away.